This April 13, thousands of visitors and residents of New York City streamed through the city’s hub andenjoyed ‘Turban Day in Times Square’ relishing the experience of having a turban wrapped around their head by enthusiastic volunteers who took the opportunity to raise awareness about Sikh faith and culture.
Sikhs in the United States have borne the burden of post-9/11 hate crime and Sikh children experience continue to experience bullying in schools according to organizations that have been active around the country and engaged law enforcement to help prevent verbal and physical violence on the Sikhs. One of the worst incidents of violence was the Aug. 5, 2012 massacre at the Oak Creek Gurdwara in Wisconsin by a White supremacist. And just days after 9/11, a Sikh man in Arizona was shot dead as reprisal for the attack on the World Trade Towers in New York City.
This was the 7th year of Turban Day, and according to Sikhs of New York, the main organizers of the event, to date 38,000 turbans have been tied, the event has received 1 million live views; reached more than 12 million digitally, and receives massive international coverage. More than 10,000 volunteers have come forward to help out over the years.
Anjleen Kaur of the National Sikh Campaign which collaborated with Sikhs of New York to organize the day in the Big Apple, told News India Times “What Turban Day really represents is justice and equality.”
This time round there was an added incentive. Renowned ice-cream makers Ben & Jerry’s joined the Turban Day campaign, putting it on their social media sites. and giving out coupons for their delicious scoops.
Ben & Jerry’s has approximately 8.8 million followers on Facebook and hundreds of thousands on Twitter as this went to press, and for the various Sikh groups in the U.S., the effort to raise awareness about their culture got a major boost with the collaboration. At the event, Ben & Jerry’s gave away coupons to some 500 lucky New Yorkers, Kaur said.
Last year, Sikhs of New York made a Guinness World Record when it put turbans on 9,000 people. This year, according to organizers, ”
We had the opportunity to share with thousands of people the experience of wearing a turban, the fact that our turban represents a Sikh’s commitment to stand up for equality and fight injustice for all people, and give out free ice cream 🙂 :),” The National Sikh Campaign said in an email.
“People from around the globe came and as they got their turbans tied, they got to listen to some facts about the Sikh faith,” Kaur said.
Prior to attending the April 13 event, Rajwant Singh, co-founder of National Sikh Campaign tweeted his thoughts about Ben & Jerry’s involvement in Turban Day. ” “America’s premium ice cream maker has taken a stand for Sikhs! Thanks to @benandjerrys for their stand with We Are Sikhs and their stand for social, economic and other forms of equality and that is what #Sikh turban stands for – equality and justice! @we_are_sikhs,” Rajwant Singh tweeted.
At the event, Rajwant Singh, posed with a poster of the Statue of Liberty, and uploaded it to social media.